I was going to make the headline of this article "What else can be said about Andy Pettitte?" till I remembered Cone said this last night...
We are all that much better for David Cone being in the YES Broadcast Booth. I could write a whole article about why he needs to always be in the booth. Perhaps I will one day. But it is not this day. This day we praise Andy Pettitte. Dandy Andy. The Stopper. Soul Brother #46. I think that's all the nicknames he has.
A lot of focus this year is going to be about Mariano Rivera retiring, and rightfully so. I'm sure I and the other Pinstriped Bible scribes will have a piece or two of our own about Mo. This could also be the last year we see Andy Pettitte in pinstripes as well and that saddens me almost as much as never seeing Mariano pitch for us again. I was sad the first time Pettitte announced his retirement. I was happy, yet reasonably concerned when he announced his un-retirement. Detirement maybe? Inventing words is fun. Watching Andy Pettitte pitch is also fun.
Yesterday the Yankees lost to the Rays due to simply being out pitched. In that loss Pettitte struck out 10 batters. He moved up on the all time strikeout leader list to 43rd.
Andy Pettitte now in sole possession of 43rd on the all-time strikeout list with 2,339 Ks. Next up: Robin Roberts with 2,357— Jeff Quagliata (@yestoresearch) April 25, 2013
He hold the record for most postseason starts and most postseason wins. Pettitte and Mo have combined for 68 win-save games. That's the most in the history of the game. Needless to say, Andy Pettitte is as good at throwing a baseball to the catcher's mitt as he is staring intently at it What I really love about all of this is that he has, to my knowledge, never been thought of or described as an "ace" or "#1" in the rotation.
I've been following Pettitte since he debuted in 1995 and watched him develop. When you think of all the incredible pitchers the Yankees have had in their starting rotation since then, pitchers like David Cone, Mike Mussina, CC Sabathia, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Sergio Mitre, it's amazing just how long Andy has worn the pinstripes and been on the mound for the Yankees. In all that time I cannot recall Andy ever being mentioned as an "ace" pitcher. He's just Pettitte. He has flown around from being a #2 to a #4 to a "let's hope he can fill in because [insert pitcher's name here] is injured" and to me Pettitte is the ultimate proof why none of that really matters in the long run and why I tend to dislike the terminology. Pettitte just simply gets the job done, which will always rank #1 in my book.
Take a look at what's become of Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes. Ivan Nova went from being a "#2" in the playoffs of 2011 to a "should we send him down to Triple A to work on his mechanics" type pitcher in two short years. It might even be one year since I'm sure it was mentioned last year as well. Fellow Pinstriped Bible scribe William wrote about Phil Hughes' inconsistency yesterday and it just stuck with me considering how consistent Pettitte has been for the Yankees over the years. He's called "The Stopper" for a reason. It's because you can rely on him. What more can you ask from a pitcher than reliability?
A pitcher doesn't have to be Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander on the mound every day. He doesn't need to lead the team in strikeouts or wins or ERA. It'd sure be nice, but even the best falter a bit. I'm perfectly fine with a pitcher being as good and as reliable as Andy Pettitte is. That's all I want from Phil Hughes. That's all I want from Ivan Nova. I will miss Pettitte when he retires again, and I'll be happy and reluctantly concerned if he detires again. He may never get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He might never have his number retired in Monument Park. But I'll certainly never forget his contribution to Yankee Baseball.